Cardinal Gracias celebrates the start of Advent among Dharavi’s poor
Dec. 2, 2013
A pastoral visit among the poor in the slums of Dharavi , to celebrate the beginning of Advent and respond to the needs of those most in need . This is how Card. Oswald Gracias , Archbishop of Mumbai and president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India (CBCI), launched the Advent Campaign against hunger and disease. In collaboration with Caritas India, the initiative aims to create greater awareness in society towards the poor who live in large urban centers , following the theme " Struggle for Survival - Bringing Hope to the Urban Poor".
The cardinal visited the slums of Mumbai on November 22. Dharavi is considered the largest slum in Asia. Created in 1880, under British colonialism, today it has a massive multi- religious and multi - ethnic population (between 300 thousand and one million inhabitants). From a certain point of view, it enshrines many negative aspects of India: open sewers, piles of garbage everywhere, dirt and crumbling shacks.
"Pope Francis - said the Cardinal launching the initiative - has dedicated his pontificate to economic justice, equality and peace. During his visits to poor communities, he praised the courage of the poor, urging society to receive them with love and compassion. "
Dharavi is located within the parish of St. Anthony, and within a radius of about 300 meters there are six chapels. Two Christian communities in particular are part of the local church: Tamils ??(about 5 thousand people) and ethnic koli (about a thousand people). On 22 November Card. Gracias visited the parish and six chapels, stopping to pray and to bless all the faithful he met on his journey. People said they felt "greatly touched by his presence and the unassuming way he walked down the narrow lanes and visited even the poorest of the poor".
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